Concrete is the most ubiquitous human-made material in the world. Here are some advantages to choosing it as your principal building material:
It’s extremely durable and resilient and it can withstand a wide range of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Because concrete gains strength over time, you won’t have to worry about repairs or maintenance as much as you would with other, less hardy materials. It is also essentially impervious to integrity-weakening pests, mold, and moisture. This resilience makes it an ideal choice for structures that have to withstand high winds and severe weather, such as storm shelters.
It’s easily workable and can be molded into any shape you can think of for a variety of purposes. It is the go-to material for roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, runways, and other public structures that are built to be heavily used and relied upon for many years. It is also a non-combustible material and it is quite fire-resistant, making it a highly effective barrier for the spread of fires.
It can be produced and used locally. Very little concrete is produced and shipped internationally, because land transport remains relatively costly. Generally, the material is produced within easy driving distance of a building site, and the molds can even be produced and cast on-site. This reduces the amount of carbon emissions from the transportation, making it a much better choice for the environment. It also uses less energy to produce in general, when compared to other building materials like wood or steel. In fact, the production will generate very few CO2 emissions at all, as 80% of a building’s CO2 emissions are created not by cement materials but by utility costs over the course of its life, such as lighting and heating.
However, it offers great energy efficiency overall. It has excellent thermal mass, and it slows the passage of heat through walls and floors, allowing for more consistent temperatures. This property significantly reduces utility bills for heating and cooling all year long.
When the ingredients are readily available, it’s affordable. Compared with other durable building materials, like steel, the cost of concrete is manageable and economical. Its longevity and low maintenance requirements also make it a sound choice for affordability. Because it is non-porous and inert, it won’t lose any of its key properties over time, so you shouldn’t expect to worry much about the cost of repairs or replacement.
It generates something called the albedo effect, which is good for the environment. Light-colored cement reflects more light and absorbs less heat, resulting in cooler temperatures. The solar radiation is reflected as light that can pass through greenhouse gases, so this process actually offsets global warming. It also reduces the "urban heat island" effect that makes temperatures soar in the warm months in concentrated urban areas. As a result, there is less need for the expenditure of energy through air conditioning.